"No offense intended, but I don't think a true wilderness is a park-like garden maintained by people burning it periodically."
a true 'wilderness' could only exist if humans were not present in the ecosystem. To make this clear, there is not one square inch of 'true wilderness' in the United States. All of it is impacted by human activity, either fire suppression, global heating, pollution, species deaths due to human encroachment and ongoing mass scale destruction of primary ecosystems. So the idea of a 'true wilderness' is a pure fantasy, particularly in the context of someone driving up on a paved road in a car spewing out various gases into the environment then having the audacity to preach LNT to anyone.
One thing is absolutely certain, the people who lived here before us took MUCH better care of this environment than we did, species diversity was higher, sustainability was higher, what we have damaged severely in only about 300 years or so, 400 maybe, they had occupied for between 15,000 and 40,000, and it was in EXCELLENT condition when we arrived, a fact noted by many Indians with extreme sorrow when they saw us destroying basically overnight systems that had sustained people for thousands of years. The concept of 'wilderness' is in my opinion a way to try to avoid taking responsibility for our actions, to create an abstraction of perfection while we destroy the vast bulk of our ecosystem.;
Even the Arctic tundra, which I would have considered a the closest to 'wilderness' in the world, is now being seriously and massively impacted by human activity, to a degree that is shocking everyone who is studying it seriously, so even the tundra can no longer be considered as wild and untouched, it's all undergoing massive and very rapid changes, far too rapid for natural systems to adapt to as they generally can.
The point is that there never has been a 'true wilderness' in this country, at least not for about 30,000 years or so, give or take 10k. Fires are fairly natural, it's us who stopped them via those absurd 'smokey bear' campaigns over the last century, creating a situation of very bad fires that would have never happened in 'nature'.
All 'wilderness' I have ever been in is the direct result of human action and tampering, from replacement of almost all california wild grasses with invasive imports brought in for ranching purposes, to artificially controlled burns that have led to fundamental changes in the forest ecology, to invasive species destroying habitats and breeding patterns of creatures like woodpeckers, to either death of species, like Grizzlies in most of california, or to absurd population explosions, like black bears and raccoons, etc, to a huge range of human altered factors, one of the main ones being a slow killing of the overall forest fauna as human development pushes in on the edges of so called 'wilderness areas', to widespread poisoning and 'predator control' done for the ranching lobby, which creates a profound imbalance in the 'natural order' of things. If you want me to go on I will, but you should probably read up on this a bit between hikes, it's not like it's hard to find this material, might help you see what you are walking through a bit better.
Those of us who listen and stop long enough to hear these changes can spot them without any external information, one guy studied this issue in terms of the overall presence of species and has found that there is a 'quieting' of the forests, a fact I have also heard here on the west coast, almost to a shocking degree. The spread of poison oak is another one, it's fond of CO2, and CO2 is what we are feeding it. I saw the melting glaciers of Mount Hood and didn't need to read a word about global heating to know that the thing in front of my eyes was a tiny fraction of the size it was on my map, in Iceland glacier retreat is so extreme some are now kilometers away from the stations built to observe them.
What we have now is nature in serious flux as it tries to adapt to man's activities, serious ecosystem degradation and ongoing pressure on all sides of any protected areas.
My hats off again to Justin, he gets it, what he does there is actually saving trees that would not have needed saving were it not for our actions.
When you do read old accounts of what it was like before humans appeared on some islands, it's truly amazing, the animals were almost completely tame, not fearing at all, but all inhabitants of natural non human systems, ie, animals, learn to fear humans in short order or they become extinct in short order. So the idea of a 'wilderness' is a pure and utter 20th century fiction.
It's still excellent to be in a 'less human impacted area' however, and they are most certainly worth every effort to preserve and conserve since they are the closest thing we have to a bank account of ecosystems to rebuild from should we be fortunate enough to not fully destroy our ecosystem.